Tag Archives: Len Lenihan

The Somnolent Columnist

12 Sep

1. Lazy columnist gets call from Steve Pigeon.


2. Lazy columnist transcribes the brain-excreta from disgraced former Erie County Democratic Committee chairman and political advisor to indictee Pedro Espada.


3. Lazy columnist assists disgraced former political figure to make Sunday headline, fill empty column space, and to re-inject himself where he’s not wanted.


4. Completely ignore the irony of a former chairman, who left the party in financial and electoral disarray a decade ago, complaining about “disarray” today.


5. Uncritically transcribe everything.


6. Profit.

The Grisanti Situation

29 Jun

The last several days have been a whirlwind for NY State Senator Mark Grisanti, but that’s what happens when you make history. After casting a crucial vote in favor of marriage equality in New York State, the Senator has found himself featured on The Daily Show, CNN, MSNBC, Fox News, and in media outlets across the country. He’s held press conferences here in Buffalo and done numerous interviews. He’s kind of a big deal.

With that sudden notoriety also came some serious questions from local officials in the Republican and Conservative Parties who were not happy with Sen. Grisanti’s decision to vote in favor of marriage equality. There have been local stories all week about how disappointed the members of those parties are with Grisanti’s actions.

When contacted for comment, Erie County Republican Chariman Nick Langworthy said, “As I’ve said a few times, I’m disappointed with Mark’s choice to vote in favor of gay marriage. He went back on his word to support the institution of marriage being between one man and one woman.”

But what are the political consequences that Grisanti now faces after “disappointing” his party chairman and senior members of the party? Yesterday, we heard a rumor from three different sources that Langworthy had arranged a meeting of at least some of the members of the Erie County Republican Executive Committee to determine what the roadmap would be for dealing with Grisanti. The sources reported that Langworthy and other Republican leaders were considering a move to sever political ties with the Senator. When asked, Langworthy said that meeting was not happening and added, “I’m not out rattling cages about this, but I think Senator Grisanti should spend some time with his constituents.”

The rumor of a secret Republican cabal to kick Grisanti out of the party, as it were, seems unlikely. After all, the decision to force Grisanti into the arms of an eager Democratic Party is not Langworthy’s alone to make. A decision like that has tremendous statewide consequences that would affect redistricting and the overall balance of power in the state senate. Any move on Grisanti would need approval from the state party chairman and other members of the party apparatus. Langworthy may be a lot of things, but a move like that would be politically tone deaf.

With that said, Democratic party regulars are chasing Grisanti like hormonal tweens chasing Justin Bieber at the airport. Pulling Grisanti back into the Democrat party from whence he came would be a massive coup. When asked for comment, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman Len Lenihan said, “There are always informal discussions locally and in Albany over issues like this, but nothing formal or direct has happened. I have not spoken with Senator Grisanti about this.” Lenihan continued, “Senator Grisanti was a lifelong Democrat until this past election and he is now a hero in this party after voting his conscience.”

Senator Grisanti’s Chief of Staff, Doug Curella said, ” Right now we are dealing with real issues like creating jobs, lowering taxes and bringing people back to the Western New York area. We have never really thought about running on the Democratic line in 2012, it’s a year in a half away, we are interested in the policy, not the politics of government.”

The stakes are high for a first term Senator who earned praise not only for his marriage equality vote but for his entire body of work during his first year. An independent report done by the New York Public Interest Research Group (NYPIRG) shows Grisanti was one of the state’s busiest and most effective lawmakers, according to a recently released study of legislation that passed this session in both the New York State Senate and New York State Assembly.

Grisanti sponsored a total of 103 bills and had 23 pass both houses ranking him 8th out of the 212 combined members who represent the state in the Senate and Assembly. These 23 bills also placed him 7th in terms of numbers of bills passed by senators. Grisanti passed the most bills of any first term senator or Assembly member. He also is the only first-year legislator among the list of 10 who passed at least 20 bills, with the other nine who made the list having served in office for at least five terms.

It seems to me that the battle for Senator Grisanti is just getting started. “The situation is ripe for discussion and Senator Grisanti essentially holds the majority for the Republicans in the State Senate.” said Lenihan.

To be continued…


8 Jun

I have heard from several sources tonight that our long nightmare of Democratic factionalism is over.

I’ll expound later, but the deal appears to be sealed. Len Lenihan will resign as Chairman of the Democratic Party.  Sources say he will be replaced by John Crangle – Joe’s nephew, current Town Committee Chair in Tonawanda, who works for the Clerk’s office.

All of the various factions in Erie County have bought into this global settlement of all outstanding grievances. The Democratic Party, therefore, moves into the 2011 campaign season as a united front against Chris Collins and the Republicans.

This, folks, is huge.

UPDATE: The official word just came in:

Lenihan to Retire as Democratic Chairman

Erie County Democratic Chairman to Accept Senior State Democratic Committee Role

Erie County Democratic Chairman Leonard R. Lenihan today announced that he is retiring as County Chairman in late July and will accept a senior position with the New York State Democratic Committee.

State Democratic Chairman Jay Jacobs announced today that winning the seven major county executive races this November is a top priority for the state party and that Lenihan has agreed to lead the state effort. “Coming off the incredible upset victory in the 26th Congressional special election, I can think of no one better for this important task,” said Jacobs.

“The state party is grateful to have him sprinkle the Lenihan magic around the state, and he will leave behind an Erie County Democratic Committee that is stronger than ever before” said Charlie King, Executive Director of the New York State Democratic Committee.

There are major county executive races this fall in Suffolk, Erie, Monroe, Broome, Dutchess, Ulster and Albany Counties which Lenihan will be involved in.

Lenihan, who was first elected Democratic Chairman in September 2002, said, “The Erie County Democratic Committee has accomplished so much in the past 9 years.  Serving our community and our party each and every day has been a privilege.  I have had the honor of working with some of the greatest community activists in the country, right here in Erie County.  Just last month we showed the world what we can do when we elected Kathy Hochul to Congress.”

Under Lenihan’s tenure as Chairman, 3 Democratic Members of Congress have been elected in WNY, 11 out of the last 13 State Supreme Court Justices have been elected as Democrats, Mark Poloncarz was elected and reelected as the first Democratic County Comptroller in over 30 years, and the first ever super-majority of Democratic Legislators were elected.

Lenihan said “Timing is everything and leadership requires us to make tough choices.  After consulting with my family and close friends, I have decided that now is the right time to hand over the reins of the County Committee to new leadership and to focus my efforts on this exciting new challenge. I will guide our Democratic Committee through the petitioning process and in late July 2011 I will retire as Chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee.”

Lenihan concluded, “I look forward in my new State Party role to helping Mark Poloncarz defeat Chris Collins in the fall and assisting our Party and community.”

Prior to becoming County Chairman in 2002, Lenihan served as Erie County Personnel Commissioner and, before that, as an Erie County legislator and Chairman of the Legislature.  His 9 year tenure makes him the longest serving Erie County Democratic Chairman since Joe Crangle left in 1988.


Lenihan Returns, Ryce Nowhere

27 Sep

The Brown/Casey – Pigeon factions’ clumsy attempt to oust Len Lenihan as chairman of the Erie County Democratic Committee failed on Saturday.  At the Democrats’ biannual reorganization meeting, Lenihan was re-elected unanimously by the rank-and-file Democratic committeepeople.

Last Tuesday, Buffalo businesswoman Sundra Ryce commenced a run against Lenihan.  She has supported Democratic candidates with monetary contributions, but exclusively Grassroots-backed candidates like Antoine Thompson, Byron Brown, and Jim Keane.  On Friday, Mayor Brown, Erie County Legislature Chairwoman Barbara Miller-Williams, and Assemblywoman Crystal Peoples-Stokes endorsed Ryce’s candidacy.  (Surprise, surprise).  This from the Buffalo News’ Politics Now blog:

“There is a movement that is taking off and gaining tremendous speed,” Brown said.

Ryce said she decided to challenge for the top party post only about a week ago, following the Primary elections. That was when she said she realized the Democratic Party needed to be “re-energized.”

But on Saturday – the day that mattered – none of them showed up.  Indeed, Ryce was never so much as nominated.  Ryce herself is not a committeeperson (one might be expected to expect her to be a member of the committee she expects to lead), and could not nominate herself.  She couldn’t even enter the meeting.  Mirroring 2008, the challenge to Lenihan was full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.  Brown and co. were just out to jerk Lenihan around, and didn’t bother to show up and take their trouncing.

As I said in 2008,

It’s disheartening to me the fact that Mayor Brown has so much potential to be an agent for positive change in this city, yet he gets all wrapped up in losing silly, petty political battles of his own creation.

The Emily Litella school of politics – “never mind” – gets Brown some ink, and makes for some suspense in an otherwise boring process.

Congratulations to Lenihan and his supporters.  It’s time for Mayor Brown and his supporters to grow up and work together with the party leadership to defeat Republicans.  But that won’t happen because of the strategic alliance with Chris Collins that Brown and Pigeon have created and continue to cultivate.

Frankly, it’s that simple.

Press Release Tuesday

21 Sep

Today was a gorgeous late summer’s day in Buffalo.  The temperature reached 80 delightfully breezy degrees, and there were two events we were asked to cover.

Firstly, a businesswoman named Sundra Ryce is running to replace Len Lenihan as the Erie County Democratic Committee chair.  Owner of a construction company called SLR Contracting & Service Co., Inc., Ryce promised that she would use her credentials as a businesswoman to help create jobs for Western New York, and to unite a party that’s been riven into about three distinct camps.

Despite her claims of independence and bridge-building, Ryce has both feet firmly planted in Byron Brown’s and Maurice Garner’s Grassroots political club, and has – personally or through her business – donated no less than $8,600 to Antoine Thompson alone over the past decade.   She’s also somewhat cozy with County Executive Chris Collins, who had appointed her to a transition team when elected, and to an upstate mandate relief commission.  More evidence of the Collins-Brown synergy we’ve come to know and love lately.

Next, State Senator and Democratic Attorney General nominee Eric Schneiderman was in Buffalo for a campaign stop hosted by Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz, who was one of a few local politicos to have endorsed Schneiderman during the primary.

Promising to continue as a “sheriff of Wall Street”, Schneiderman praised Poloncarz’s, “aggressive, fair-minded approach to the [comptroller’s] audit function” as an example of what the attorney general’s office should do to “restore public confidence in the market and financial sector”.  Schneiderman focused not so much on the financial meltdown’s affect on the banks, but more on the “grassroots consequences” of Wall Street’s collapse.  Noting that Americans had withdrawn $33 billion from the markets in recent months, Schneiderman promised to be a “watchdog” for the people of New York.

Poloncarz noted that the Republican candidate for AG, Dan Donahue, is opposed to using that office to regulate or monitor Wall Street, and characterized that as “wrong for New York”.

When asked how he felt about being in the heart of “Carl Country”, Schneiderman retorted, “I don’t feel like I’m in Carl Paladino Country.  I feel like this is Mark Poloncarz Country”.

On a less serious note, right before the Schneiderman presser, a truck engine failed next to a police car on Church Street, exploding a load of thick, black oil all over the street and a police cruiser.


PolitiFAIL Elite Eight: Volker vs. Thompson

30 Mar

The decision here comes down to this: do you vote for the guy who’s been in office for 40 years and been instrumental in fucking up the State of New York in general, and WNY in particular? Or do you vote for the guy who aspires to do just that?

Thompson’s problem is that he makes stupid mistakes, which makes people pretty much think he’s stupid. You don’t gain the confidence of voters by railing against a bill you co-sponsored. You don’t inspire a lot of confidence by being flip-floppedly incoherent on Hiram Monserrate’s expulsion.

In a normal place, Thompson would be so easily defeated in any fair election that it would make people’s heads spin. But this isn’t a normal place, and our voters are a bit askew, as well.

I’ll bring this up again because it’s so telling. When asked why we even need a State Senate, this is the best Thompson could come up with. Not good enough:


Ah, but dear reader, if there were any other competitor, it would be a blow-out for Antoine. His opponent, however, is Dale Volker – a malignant cancer; a polyp in the colon that is Western New York.

Volker is a veritable piece of shit who has been in office probably since before you were born. He’s that old fart going 30 in the left lane, driving the tan Buick of our politics. His tough-guy pandering to cops and corrections officers stems from the fact that without Attica and other correctional facilities, his district would cease to exist.

His political survival is dependent on murderers and rapists.

A renowned asshole, Volker dispatches sycophants and surrogates to bully and threaten political opponents on a regular basis. He is so bad that even the Republicans and teabaggers hate him.

He is so odious, in fact, that even Jim Domagalski – the chairman of the Erie County Republican Committee is considering a primary run against him.  Primaries are like kryptonite to Republicans.

That’s as if Len Lenihan decided to run against Bill Stachowski.

Both of these guys are useless entities in a useless legislative body. Good luck choosing the guy close to retirement vs. the guy who’s just getting started.


Democrats Gearing Up

15 Jun

Cheektowaga Police Captain John Glascott talks about his run for Erie County Sheriff:


And Len Lenihan, Erie County Democratic Committee Chairman, has a message for his predecessor, Steve Pigeon:


Erie County Comptroller Mark Poloncarz discusses the road ahead:


Erie County Democrats

21 Sep

Len Lenihan was re-elected chairman of the Erie County Democratic Party yesterday. Unanimously. By about 1,000 committeepeople.

There was no floor fight. There was no challenge. There was no opposition. There was no impassioned speech by Lenihan opponents. There was no alternative candidate proposed. There was nothing. For all of Steve Casey and Steve Pigeon’s bleating about Lenihan and Dennis Ward, nothing happened. Despite all their whispering to Bob McCarthy, nothing happened.

Again – let’s be completely clear on the issue.

1. City Hall is at war with Lenihan for absolutely no known reason other than, apparently, the fact that Lenihan is party chairman and Steve Casey is not. Of course, Casey isn’t even a committeeman anymore. He’s just the Deputy Mayor. He’s also no longer a vice-chairman of the party.

2. ECDC’s doors are open to any Democrat – not just the members of any faction. The supposed “war” is not only unprovoked, but farcical.

3. Despite the supposed rift and war, the party is as unified as one might expect it to be. So what if a small percentage of people wants to settle old scores or wage a war?

I personally think that what elected political folk should be most concerned with is reversing decades of decline and economic stagnation rather than petty, unnecessary political warfare. Byron Brown and Steve Casey run a city with a lot of problems. Crime, abandonment, housing, poverty – where’s the big picture plan to deal with that? Development, smart code, zoning, regionalism, land banking – what’s up with that?

Like I said earlier this week, the city of Buffalo has more than its share of problems, and is in desperate need of strong, forward-thinking, inclusive leadership. Instead, it’s run by an insular, paranoid, secretive, power-obsessed clique. How’s that working out?

Photo by Flickr Member Chris Creamer

More on Byron Brown vs. Len Lenihan

19 Sep

It’s disheartening to me the fact that Mayor Brown has so much potential to be an agent for positive change in this city, yet he gets all wrapped up in losing silly, petty political battles of his own creation.

For instance, kudos to the Mayor for canvassing the West Side neighborhood that has experienced far too many shootings in the past few weeks. It’s also good that he’s calling for the replacement of the obviously inept excuse for “leadership” at the ailing Broadway Market.

But when it comes to leadership of the county Democrats, he and his political allies are like bulls in a china shop. Yesterday, the Brown faction started a rumor that tomorrow’s reorganization meeting had been postponed. Not true, and the party had to scramble to get the word out that it’s still on at Hearthstone Manor in Cheektowaga tomorrow at 10:00 a.m. That’s just pathetic – It’s become so evident that the Pigeon/Casey/Brown camp doesn’t have what it takes to oust Lenihan, that they’ve reduced themselves to cheap stunts and lies.

In fact, it’s become so obvious that Lenihan will be re-elected, that Mayor Brown has decided not to bother causing promised “fireworks” at tomorrow’s meeting, and will instead just stay home, like a petulant kid.

Sayeth Brown,

“I’m not going to participate in this or any other divisive politics,”

That’s a laff-riot, since that’s been the consuming focus of Brown and his henchmen for over a year now – to divide the party and gain political power and patronage.

Any “war” between downtown and City Hall is a creation of City Hall’s, and they have only themselves to blame for any breakdown in that relationship. The Brown faction, with the assistance of former chair and metaphor for divisive politics Steve Pigeon, have failed to render the city council into a rubber stamp, have failed to garner enough committeepeople to mount a credible challenge to Lenihan, have failed to oust their nemesis Sam Hoyt, and have failed now to even present a viable candidate to replace Lenihan (note the conspicuous absence of the names “Cosgrove” and “NeMoyer” from today’s paper).

Someone once said that Democrats can screw up a cup of coffee. Political disputes and races are good. A lively debate and exchange of ideas is good. But in this case, City Hall has unilaterally declared war on the county party leadership for no reason and to no avail. I really, truly, fail to see the point of it all, except that it gives the media – including me – something to write about. The party loses, the voters lose, and it all becomes a needless distraction in a region that really has bigger things to worry about than who’s mas macho.

UPDATE: Cheektowaga’s Frank Max, who had been – all summer – the candidate who intended to challenge Lenihan for the chairmanship has withdrawn his name from consideration. Why? He says,

I believe that we would have been victorious but only after a “floor fight” that would have continued to split our committee and our community. I cannot in good conscience be party to the contribution of negative and divided behavior.

I have decided instead to withdraw my name from consideration and to work toward uniting our party and more importantly this community to help achieve an atmosphere that moves us in a positive and optimistic direction.

To my supporters, I truly appreciate your many kind thoughts, words and deeds. I ask that you work with me toward unity in Erie County politics. Thank you for your support and your friendship.

Max should be commended for his unifying words, and one only hopes he turns them into deeds.

I need to write something

15 Jan


I’ve been swamped with work, family, and company management stuff as of late so the blogging has taken a backseat. I’ve been wanting to write about a lot of topics as of late, but time is always an issue for me. So, another random thoughts column peppered with links to stuff I found interesting and I’ll be back to writing in a couple of days.

  • If you’re not watching “The Wire” on HBO, why not? The similarities between the depiction of Baltimore’s gritty reality and that of Buffalo are striking. The writing is phenomenal, the characters flawlessly developed and complex, and the subject matter crucial for any urban denizen. If you need to catch up on the first four seasons, watch this and then get to steppin’ on watching this season’s episodes. You can also read a fantastic interview with the show’s creator, David Simon at The Atlantic.
  • This is how you build a new sports stadium. The “build a new stadium downtown” crowd needs to take a look at what modern stadium construction looks like in the year 2008. It isn’t a small footprint like The Ralph anymore, it’s a massive mixed use development with tons of parking. Urban stadiums can be built, but they require more space than local proponents assume in their off-the-cuff remarks.
  • If you could create a slogan that sums up the last 40 years of Buffalo History and what you presume the next 40 years will bring, what would it be? I used “The City of Broken Dreams and Irresponsible Hope” in a conversation last week and it has been jangling around my noggin ever since. Since I am so pleased with myself for coming up with it, I thought I’d see what others think of it and perhaps solicit some new ones.
  • If we started selling WNYMedia t-shirts, would you buy one? They’d come with pithy sayings and/or local iconography as well as our logo. After all, providing a website of this size ain’t cheap. We needs some money!
  • After reading this Phil Fairbanks fluff piece on Lynn Marinelli, I almost regretted voting against her in the past two elections. Then, I came to my senses and realized I had done the right thing. However, the most striking part of the story came in the form of a Len Lenihan quote about bipartisanship in the Erie County Legislature:

“To me, it’s the same old, same old,” said Lenihan, who suggested Marinelli’s alliance with Collins is akin to “crossing a picket line.”

Wow. Lynn did what was politically necessary to retain her leadership position, but she has always been willing to work with members of the Republican caucus. This old machine style attitude of “us v. them” is exactly what discourages progress in this county.

  • I just can’t get down with any of these Presidential candidates. On the Dem side; Hillary’s constant parsing and race baiting has me nauseous, Obama’s economic plans are a bit sketchy for my liking, and Edwards is a used car salesman. On the Republican side, McCain is looking for a century long commitment in Iraq, Giuliani can’t discuss dinner plans without working in a 9/11 reference, Huckabee is too creepy christianist for me, Ron Paul is…well…Ron Paul, Fred Thompson seems like a Texas Sheriff, and Mitt Romnobot3000 is completely uninspiring. What to do? I liked Biden and Richardson, but they’re out.
  • The flippant nature which Dreamhost uses to deal with massive technical problems drives me insane. We’re going to find ourselves a new webhosting company, but that will result in a day or two of downtime while the DNS records in the Internet tubes are changed. I will not host with Online Media since they repeatedly insult us, so I’m wondering if there is another local service which anyone prefers. If you have a preferred national partner that offers dedicated web and MySQL hosting, let me know that as well.
  • Anyone have leads on work-from-home jobs that aren’t pyramid schemes or indentured servitude? I know someone who, due to health reasons, is looking for a work-from-home position of a clerical or bookkeeping nature. It seems as if every opportunity is some “Make Millions On Ebay” type scam or repackaging someone’s Ebay scam. Any help is appreciated.
  • If you haven’t picked up the latest issue of Block Club Magazine, do so. The design, as always, is top notch. The content lacks pretension and focuses on “regional” hyperlocal matters. A great read and good for the community. Two thumbs up